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ICO Review

This is a discussion on ICO Review within the Game Reviews forum, part of the Trophy Guides, Reviews & Articles; ICO Review by JackAttack Basic Information: Developer: Team Ico Producer: Sony Computer Entertainment North American Release Date: September 27, 2011 ...

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    ICO Review

    ICO Review
    by JackAttack


    Basic Information:
    Developer: Team Ico
    Producer: Sony Computer Entertainment
    North American Release Date: September 27, 2011
    European Release Date: September 30, 2011
    Trophies: 2 4 9 1

    Overview:
    ICO is the renowned Playstation 2 title that has now been graced with a PS3 upgrade along with Shadow of the Colossus in the Team Ico Collection. ICO, which originally debuted way back in 2001, was critically acclaimed and was even thought of as a piece of art. With it's minimalistic design and simple gameplay, ICO won over many gamers' hearts, and fans of the game have showed continued support of Team Ico throughout their release of Shadow of the Colossus as well as their upcoming game The Last Guardian. However, 10 years separate the original release of ICO and it's brush-up for the PS3. Does ICO still pack the same punch it once did?

    Gameplay:
    ICO's gameplay is simple and refreshing, but I also found it to be rather unenjoyable and quite boring. For the most part, ICO is a puzzle-platformer with some combat thrown in, which doesn't really amount to much fun. While this might have been one of best and most entertaining games way back in 2001, when compared to today's God of War, Uncharted, and Assassin's Creed games, it simply doesn't provide the same amount of entertainment that we now currently see. While it is unfair to judge an older game on how good it is compared to newer ones, it's allowable because you're going to be playing it within the midst of all of these great fall games. I can honestly say that if I was reviewing the game back in 2001, especially its gameplay, I would most likely give it a more positive review in this section specifically. Unfortunately, it's 2011, and things have changed in terms of gameplay over the years.

    Most of the game will be spent solving puzzles with your companion Yorda, who is pretty much brain-dead and can't do anything for herself except to jump small distances, run a little bit, and hold your hand as you tug her along. Unless called, Yorda will not be mobile whatsoever, yet you need to get her from one end of a level to the next in order to progress. To be honest, I found it quite amusing how dumb and dependent Yorda was on Ico, but it's all apart of the gameplay. You need to assist Yorda in escape, and the real beef of the challenge is figuring out how to use her to solve specific puzzles, and how to protect her from anything out to hurt her.


    Ico can call out to Yorda for her to follow him in order to assist him in progressing.

    As far as the platforming sections go, it's very refreshing to climb, leap, and run through different environments to solve the numerous puzzles. The controls are simple and easy to master with only a few of the buttons on the controller ever being put to use. The level design is downright spectacular, which is required for a puzzle game to be a success.

    Unfortunately, not everything here is fun. The combat is silly, difficult, frustrating, and annoying. You'll find yourself in many situations where these strange shadow-like creatures will try to attack Yorda and bring her back to the black holes in which they came. While the shadow creatures cannot harm you, you'll find yourself facing numerous game over screens if they are able to capture Yorda and bring her back. Enemy types are varied, with some of the creatures having the ability to fly, or are substantially bigger than the others. While this is a very cool concept, the combat really just turns into a button masher where you try to beat these shadows to death with a stick... Yeah, it's about as fun as it sounds. ICO can also be annoyingly difficult, as if the shadow creatures attack you, you'll be doubled-over in pain for a good 10 seconds or so - more than enough time for them to capture Yorda. Frequent checkpoints and save stations are nice, but it's still aggravating to repeat encounters multiple times before succeeding, especially since the combat isn't at all enjoyable.

    Singleplayer:
    Team Ico is famous for telling charming and simplistic tales that give you just enough information to care for the characters and setting, but not too much that you'll feel overwhelmed with information. Contrary to many people who love to be wowed by a big story with numerous plot twists, I found it a delight to watch the straightforward story unfold in front of my eyes.

    ICO tells a mysterious and unique story of a young boy who has horns protruding from his head. In his village, this is considered a bad omen, and so he is escorted by numerous warriors to a prison and is locked away. Thanks to a tremor, Ico (the boy) is able to escape his confines and runs about the prison in search of escape. Soon after, Ico stumbles upon a beautiful woman named Yorda who is locked away in a cage, guarded by shadowy creatures. After helping her escape, Ico must defend her as the two of them figure out exactly what's going on in the ominous prison, and how they can go about escaping it. Thus begins an adventure story, which in simple terms is no more than a ginormous escort mission as Yorda and Ico attempt to escape the prison.


    Ico and Yorda interact in simple, yet heartfelt ways.

    The plot is unique in the sense that there is very little dialogue throughout the game. The majority of the story is told by letting you draw your own conclusions, letting you portray the story yourself. It's an intriguing concept to say the least, and one that I enjoyed a lot. Letting the player figure out for themselves what the story is really about is a breath of fresh air, as it allows each gamer to take something different out of it.

    The real treat here is that the setting ICO takes place in is simply awe-inspiring. Its mysterious nature is one that I savored every moment of. You never really know exactly what's happening until you get towards the end, which makes the game magnificent in ways that are hard to explain in words. Too often are games predictable, but ICO literally gives you nothing to go off of, which adds to the atmosphere, mystery, and even the suspense.

    However, the singleplayer is undeniably short. Clocking in around five hours just isn't gonna cut it, especially when games that you can potentially spend hundreds of hours on are and have been released on the PS3. It's a nice experience, but it's a short one at that, and there's not much incentive to play the game again. While there is an unlockable cooperative mode, it's frankly a bore, especially since the player controlling Yorda is still under the same limitations as the AI-controlled one. Still, it's a nice adventure, albeit a quick one.

    Technical:
    On a personal level, graphics are much more than how pretty a game looks. Having beautiful looking pixels is nice and all, but there are underlying things to take into consideration, especially when reviewing a game in it's technical areas. Games need to reach a certain level of immersion, of an atmospheric tone, in order to be a true technical masterpiece. ICO is one of those games that isn't gorgeous, but is still able to reach out to you, pull you into its world, and never let you go.

    ICO most definitely shows its age when it comes to its graphics. Despite it being given a high-definition touch-up, ICO still looks nowhere near as impressive as most PS3 games, especially games from other collections. While unfortunate that the game doesn't look extremely pretty, the environment that you play in is unique and extraordinary, and one that you can easily find yourself immersed in.


    The setting for ICO is mysterious and beautiful, even if the graphics don't exactly show it.

    The soundtrack is a nice addition to the already immersive setting, and it fits the game like a glove. However, the lack of English voice acting can be a turn off as you will be forced to read english subtitles, even in the English version of the game, as Ico speaks in a foreign language. Yorda and other main characters speak in a fictional language, and even subtitles don't work for them, so you will have no idea what they're even saying.

    Despite the aged graphics, the animations that are shown off while ICO runs through the castle are fantastic, even when compared to today's games. The simple animation of ICO tugging along Yorda as the pair run through the castle is some nice and simple eye candy, and it was a pleasure just to watch ICO take Yorda's hand and pull her along.

    Thankfully, ICO is free of any bugs and glitches, and you will rarely encounter any drops in the frame rate. Despite the sub-par graphics, the game is very immersive as you'll find yourself enveloped in this unique world, accompanied by a fitting soundtrack.

    Trophies:
    If you're in it for the trophies, then you're in luck! There are a total of 9 gold trophies, which are all relatively attainable and not too difficult to get. The majority of the trophies are story-related, and as such are un-missable. There are a few of the more difficult trophies that will take some skill to achieve, however. There are trophies for beating the game in under 2 hours, which can be difficult and will take multiple runthroughs for practice in order to have a good chance at getting the trophies. This does add some replay value - something the game desperately needs - but isn't fun. Still if you like a good challenge with some great rewards, this is a plat worth going for.

    Closing Thoughts:
    In all honesty, ICO was a difficult game to review. To try to summarize and draw opinions on a game that is, for the most part, 10 years old is not an easy task. But for that exact same reason, ICO is a fantastic game. To have influenced so many games and to have found its way into the heart of many gamers, so much so that the game still holds up and retains its former glory 10 years after its original release is truly inspiring. ICO is unique. It's simple, mysterious, and wonderful. While the game is most definitely the lesser of the two games available in this collection, it's still a good game and one that everyone should experience. Despite its numerous faults, there is still joy to be found here, and for the asking price, there just isn't a reason to not go out and get the collection if you've yet to experience ICO.

    Gameplay: 6/10
    While the combat can be downright horrible, the platforming and solving puzzles is unique and interesting, and it offers up a good amount of enjoyment. While frustratingly challenging, assisting Yorda can offer up a good amount of difficulty. Frankly while the game is unique, the gameplay just isn't fun.

    Singleplayer: 9/10
    The story is filled to the brim with mystery and intrigue, and it's refreshing how little you're given to go off of in terms of plot. Anyone can watch events play out in front of them, but to be forced to figure out what they mean on your own is great.

    Technical: 7/10
    The graphics look horribly aged, but that's not all there is to a game's presentation. The feeling of total immersion will find you throughout the majority of the game, which can be a breath of fresh air. A complimenting soundtrack and stellar animations only add to that. It would have been nice to have the dialogue be in English, instead of having to be forced to read English subtitles though.

    Overall: 7/10 Good
    Last edited by JackAttack; 10-04-2011 at 06:43 PM.

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    Honestly haven't played this game yet, did get the collection though so that is a temporary problem.

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    7 out of 10?


    Now that's a kick in the ribs, after everything i've heard about this game.


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    I haven't played the game myself, but so far I've only heard good things, and a lot of hype before that.

    Nonetheless, Jack, this is a well written review!



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    I don't really mind that the game's dialogue isn't in English, since it's not really Japanese, either. I consider it part of the immersion in the fantasy world that's been created. You can read the subtitles for the main language being spoken by the character you play as, but Yorda's dialogue is unknown to you until it is unlocked in the second playthrough.
    Also, unmentioned here, but a huge thing in my opinion, the 3D. I know a lot of people knock it, but it was truly amazing in this game. Considering the architecture for the prison and the way so many puzzles involve odd camera placement, having that extra depth added into the equation was rather helpful, and at times helped to draw my attention away from the lack of detail on the textures. There were a few places it was kind of muddy, such as in the final stretch of the game where there was a lot of water, but for the most part, it was a very positive addition to the game.
    I agree for the most part with the review, but I feel a little too much emphasis was put on how dated the graphics are. I think most people who will pick this up know how old it is, and there isn't much you can do to make a game look "new" without completely remaking it. The remastering that was done here is some of the best I've seen in the HD Collections so far, and I thoroughly enjoyed my 12+ hours with the game.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AizawaYuuichi View Post
    I don't really mind that the game's dialogue isn't in English, since it's not really Japanese, either. I consider it part of the immersion in the fantasy world that's been created. You can read the subtitles for the main language being spoken by the character you play as, but Yorda's dialogue is unknown to you until it is unlocked in the second playthrough.
    Also, unmentioned here, but a huge thing in my opinion, the 3D. I know a lot of people knock it, but it was truly amazing in this game. Considering the architecture for the prison and the way so many puzzles involve odd camera placement, having that extra depth added into the equation was rather helpful, and at times helped to draw my attention away from the lack of detail on the textures. There were a few places it was kind of muddy, such as in the final stretch of the game where there was a lot of water, but for the most part, it was a very positive addition to the game.
    I agree for the most part with the review, but I feel a little too much emphasis was put on how dated the graphics are. I think most people who will pick this up know how old it is, and there isn't much you can do to make a game look "new" without completely remaking it. The remastering that was done here is some of the best I've seen in the HD Collections so far, and I thoroughly enjoyed my 12+ hours with the game.
    You always deliver such brilliant feedback and opinion :0


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    ico is awesome dont get discouraged by the review

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    I disagree on the combat being difficult. You just need to choose your moments when to attack and put yourself(and yorda) in a good position. You can also avoid a lot of combat if you wish to by either running away or simply dragging yorda to an idol gate(if it's in reach) this instantly kills all the shadow men in the area.

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    I wouldn't call it a 'fail' review. I agree with everything for the most part. As far as the technical part goes, you're not taking into account the game is ten years old. So of course it's going to look dated compared to say Uncharted. It's a PS2 game after all. If you play the PS2 version and compared it to the PS3 version, you can definitely see the differences. In all honesty, the collection is one of the better remakes out there graphic wise. ICO is one of the first big games for the PS3 as well. It was one of the first games that showed what the PS2 could, similar to the first Uncharted for the PS3



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    Quote Originally Posted by Artemisthemp View Post
    Jack fail.
    Ico was release on September 28 2011 in EU
    Not everywhere...it came out on the 30th in the UK

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    Quote Originally Posted by Artemisthemp View Post
    Jack fail.
    Ico was release on September 28 2011 in EU
    No, it's not a fail. According to my resources ICO was released on September 30th in many parts of the UK. Heck, even the person above me agrees.

    Quote Originally Posted by kenady15 View Post
    ico is awesome dont get discouraged by the review
    Well in your opinion it is awesome. I was prepared to be met with people such as you, but you do realize that a 7/10 review for a game is still a positive review. I didn't hate the game, I gave it a lot of praise and I suggested for everyone who has yet to experience the game to go out and get the collection.

    Anyway, I didn't find it awesome, personally. The word "refreshing" is more suitable, I think.

    I'm not saying the game is bad by any means, and you have to understand that reviewing what is essentially a 10 year-old game is difficult to do, but is the game still as good as it once was? Probably not. I was only 3 years old when it originally came out. But reviewing the game in present day, my thoughts and feelings still stand.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JackAttack View Post
    No, it's not a fail. According to my resources ICO was released on September 30th in many parts of the UK. Heck, even the person above me agrees.

    Well in your opinion it is awesome. I was prepared to be met with people such as you, but you do realize that a 7/10 review for a game is still a positive review. I didn't hate the game, I gave it a lot of praise and I suggested for everyone who has yet to experience the game to go out and get the collection.

    Anyway, I didn't find it awesome, personally. The word "refreshing" is more suitable, I think.

    I'm not saying the game is bad by any means, and you have to understand that reviewing what is essentially a 10 year-old game is difficult to do, but is the game still as good as it once was? Probably not. I was only 3 years old when it originally came out. But reviewing the game in present day, my thoughts and feelings still stand.
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    Excellent review, Jack. I agree with the score and whilst others will disagree, as already shown in this thread, it hasn't aged well and deserves a good but not masterpiece rating.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JackAttack View Post
    I'm not saying the game is bad by any means, and you have to understand that reviewing what is essentially a 10 year-old game is difficult to do, but is the game still as good as it once was? Probably not. I was only 3 years old when it originally came out. But reviewing the game in present day, my thoughts and feelings still stand.
    Holy shit, son, and I mean literally. I realize I'm not really all that old, but if you were only 3 when it originally came out, then that kinda puts your review into perspective. I can't really argue with your points, considering you've grown up in a completely different gaming environment. I'm gonna go out on a limb and guess the majority of people in my camp were probably late-teens or older when this came out, and everyone else either missed it or weren't near old enough to play games. Yay for generational gaps!

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    ICO wasn't given hugely great reviews when it was first released.
    It was far too different to anything else that had been released before it at the time, a lot of video game reviewers just didn't grasp the relative "Softly Softly "approach of this game combat compared to a bog standard FPS, combined that with the description of the atmospherics of the surroundings, plus the relative short amount of time needed to finish the game all conspired to make sales worldwide rather poor.

    It didn't diminish it's worth as a true classic game to those who searched out the "different" at the time and appreciated the story.
    It's still a very good game, despite it's age.

    I can't agree about the review saying the combat is silly, difficult, frustrating and annoying.
    I think you could train a chimp to beat this game, as even they would fathom the blatantly obvious combat strategy needed to beat the foes [Face foes, press button once, character make 3 hit's at them with stick, repeat twice, foes die], crikey even the boss is a total no brainer to defeat.

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    Quote Originally Posted by blackwiggle View Post
    I can't agree about the review saying the combat is silly, difficult, frustrating and annoying.
    I think you could train a chimp to beat this game, as even they would fathom the blatantly obvious combat strategy needed to beat the foes [Face foes, press button once, character make 3 hit's at them with stick, repeat twice, foes die], crikey even the boss is a total no brainer to defeat.
    I've had to restart large gameplay segments of the game because it was difficult to the point where I was surrounded by 3-4 shadow figures. One knocks you down, and you can't move for 5-10 seconds. Yorda gets captured, and you have to run and try to save her. Well what happens if you get knocked down again? You're screwed.

    Even such, if you're able to pass a gameplay segment it's tedious work. Slowly beat up the shadows with a stick and try to keep them away from Yorda. Odds are they'll end up capturing her and you'll have to go save her. Successfully saving her means that they'll probably knock you down in the process, and then another shadow will try to take her to their black hole, making you repeat the process. I've literally spent over 15 minutes in ONE area doing that, which is frustrating and unenjoyable, in my opinion.

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    Hmm. Interesting to say the very least.

    I think the graphics are fantastic, considering the game is ten years old. But in all honesty, too much focus is on graphics these days, when ICO's atmosphere and uniqueness is what should be admired. You don't really play the game, you experience it, that's how I feel about it anyway. As I said in the Shadow of the Colossus review, I strongly believe that what made these games so special will be completely lost on a generation who can't force themselves to look further than the dated graphics.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gotakibono View Post
    Hmm. Interesting to say the very least.

    I think the graphics are fantastic, considering the game is ten years old. But in all honesty, too much focus is on graphics these days, when ICO's atmosphere and uniqueness is what should be admired. You don't really play the game, you experience it, that's how I feel about it anyway. As I said in the Shadow of the Colossus review, I strongly believe that what made these games so special will be completely lost on a generation who can't force themselves to look further than the dated graphics.
    Good points, although do remember that I praised the game's immersion and atmosphere. Graphics aren't everything, but a pretty game is definitely a nice addition. Considering that the game is 10 years old, yeah it doesn't look too horrible, but it's most definitely the worst-looking game I've seen on the PS3 since I've gotten it. Somewhat excusable, and it's possible I've spoiled myself with playing such amazing-looking games, but at the same time it's still there and not up to par.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JackAttack View Post
    Good points, although do remember that I praised the game's immersion and atmosphere. Graphics aren't everything, but a pretty game is definitely a nice addition. Considering that the game is 10 years old, yeah it doesn't look too horrible, but it's most definitely the worst-looking game I've seen on the PS3 since I've gotten it. Somewhat excusable, and it's possible I've spoiled myself with playing such amazing-looking games, but at the same time it's still there and not up to par.
    I'm going to bring Star Wars into this, and yes, I'm going there. Firstly, Star Wars is a series that is adored across the world by many fanatical people, as you probably already know. People were drawn into it by its unique mythology, ground-breaking special effects and iconic characters. So, why did they all throw a hissy fit when George Lucas re-released them with an edited and "improved" version of the movies?

    I'll tell you why - he was tampering with something they loved and with something he didn't need to tamper with. I don't know if you see where I'm going with this, or if I'm on some kind of incoherent rant, but bear with me... Team ICO couldn't really rebuild the game that is universally adored, could they? I for one am glad they didn't pull a George Lucas. Sometimes you've to just appreciate a classic for what it is - a classic. It's blatantly obvious that it'll never compare with PS3 games graphically, but it absolutely destroys 99% of PS3 games in a creative and artistic sense.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gotakibono View Post
    I'll tell you why - he was tampering with something they loved and with something he didn't need to tamper with. I don't know if you see where I'm going with this, or if I'm on some kind of incoherent rant, but bear with me... Team ICO couldn't really rebuild the game that is universally adored, could they? I for one am glad they didn't pull a George Lucas. Sometimes you've to just appreciate a classic for what it is - a classic. It's blatantly obvious that it'll never compare with PS3 games graphically, but it absolutely destroys 100% of PS3 games in a creative and artistic sense.
    There, my friend, I've fixed that for you.

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